By JOHN CAYWOOD and JIM NUNLEY
In late October, we shared the stage with representatives of several Idaho sportsmen’s organizations to announce our dissatisfaction with Congress.
For nearly a decade, Congress has attempted to protect a true sportsmen’s paradise, the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains in central Idaho. They have failed. The recent government shutdown was a spectacular display of dysfunction. It was the tipping point for many of us in hunter orange and fishing waders.
The protection of world-class fish and wildlife habitat and our hunting opportunities in the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains can no longer rest in Congress’ hands.
That’s why we have formed a new coalition of Idaho hunters and anglers—we call it Sportsmen for the Boulder White Clouds. Our aim is to take our hunting heritage out of the hands of Congress and put it back into ours.
We think the best way to do this is through a national monument, which can be custom-tailored by Idahoans to keep things the way we like them.
There is currently no comprehensive plan in place to protect our traditional access and our existing uses for the area.
The area in question is the same 763,000 acres that Congress has tried to protect for nearly a decade. The Boulder-White Clouds are well-loved and well-used by Idaho hunters and anglers. They produce some of the biggest and best bull elk and mule deer bucks in Idaho, as well as trophy bighorn rams and prized mountain goats. In addition, the Jerry Peak roadless area is full of game birds—chukars, blue grouse, ruffed grouse and Hungarian partridge.
Anglers catch big native west-slope cutthroat trout in the high alpine lakes in the summer, and the Salmon River and the East Fork are important spawning and rearing areas for chinook salmon and steelhead, cutthroat trout and bull trout.
Our coalition is made up of individual Idaho sportsmen, the Idaho Wildlife Federation, Ada County Fish and Game League, the Idaho Chukar Foundation and the National Wildlife Federation. Our goal is to show Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel that we have strong support from local sportsmen for protecting the Boulder-White Clouds. To that end, we have launched a petition drive. Go to www.sportsmenforBWC.org to sign our petition.
If Idaho sportsmen are actively involved in shaping a national monument proposal for the Boulder-White Clouds, the area can be preserved with Idaho interests in mind. We want to make sure that the fish and wildlife are managed by Idaho Fish and Game, we want continued fishing and hunting, outfitting and guiding, management by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management for continuity, and continued free access to trails and roads to the area.
There is currently no comprehensive plan in place to protect our traditional access and our existing uses for the area. We could wake up tomorrow to find an area we hunt or fish is suddenly threatened by a large mine, private land development or irresponsible motorized use.
To have a truly amazing area literally right here in our backyard is an absolute miracle. Nature’s natural beauty only exists at our preference. We can keep it or destroy it.
In order to keep things the way we like them, it’s time for Idaho sportsmen and women who love the Boulder-White Clouds to step up and sight in on a national monument.
John Caywood and Jim Nunley are lifelong Idaho hunters. John is a member of the Ada County Fish and Game League. Jim is president of the Idaho Wildlife Federation.